Andrew was raised in a Mormon family but harbored some doubts about the religion, especially when he failed to have spiritual experiences while training to serve a mission. He continued to attend church, get married in the temple, and raise his family in the faith but began to doubt the existence of God – and concluded that the church was “good” even if it wasn’t “true.” Learning about the Gospel Topics Essays and the historical issues contained therein, he discovered that the church had lied to him. He delved deeper and found the church to be founded by a power-hungry predator with a history of being a con-artist. He knew the church wasn’t true and could no longer believe the church to be good, even if there are good members of the church.
Andrew offers advice for any looking at joining the church: “Put at least as much time looking at independent reviews, or alternate opinions, as you would with any other major life decision. Don’t just trust what the missionaries tell you, or make the decision because you felt good once after you prayed, just as you wouldn’t blindly trust what the used car salesman tells you after you looked at the first car on the lot.”
I am an airline pilot who enjoys traveling the world. I was born in to the church, and raised in a small New England college town, where my sister and I were the only Mormons in our school. Although my parents were faithful, they were extremely progressive and nuanced Mormons. They raised me to be a free thinker, to follow my own path, be a hard worker, and to be loving and accepting. I so wanted the church to be true. I was a Mormon.
My first real crisis with church stuff came when I attempted to serve a mission… I was never getting these hyper spiritual experiences when everyone else was claiming to get them. I was doing the right things, and I desperately wanted to get them, but never did. All of those things led to me basically having a nervous breakdown in the MTC. So after about five weeks, I went home.
I eventually got married in the temple, started a family and a career, and continued my activity in the church. I attended church, kept my temple recommend active, filled my callings, paid tithing, read scriptures, and prayed regularly. But I never got anything that confirmed the church to me. Didn’t make sense to me. Eventually stuff like this led to me starting to doubt not just the church, but even the existence of God. But I soldiered on with the church, eventually deciding that it didn’t really matter if the church was true, or even if God existed, I liked the church and believed it to be good.
Prop 8 was hard for me to deal with. I could not understand why the church would care about the issue, particularly when most of the people affected were not even Mormons. That was a big weight on my “shelf”. But eventually Prop 8 faded in to the background and I continued to live my life, trying to be a good Mormon and raise my kids to strong in the church because I still believed it to be “good”, even if I was not sure if it was “true” or even if God existed.
Then one Sunday, someone mentioned the Gospel Topics Essays. I had never heard of these. So after church, I went home and looked them up. These were essays written and published by the church (so they are official) that dealt with many of the messy things in church history. As I looked through the different topics, I realized that I had never even heard of most of the issues, and the ones I had heard of, I was told were anti-Mormon lies. But there they were, essentially an official admission by the church that my church leaders had lied to me. Wow, that hit hard.
Then I read the essay about race and the priesthood. I knew this was a touchy and controversial topic, and one I had never fully come to grips with. But at face value, the essay seemed to offer some explanation. But then the very next day, while reading the scriptures with my kids… the essay claims the disavow any theories that dark skin was a curse from God, but right there was the teaching that dark skin was a curse from God. It was a blatant lie that the church didn’t know where the idea came from, and it was a blatant lie the teaching was disavowed, because the seminary assignment had the kids reading it right there in scripture.
That was the moment my shelf completely collapsed. The church had lied to me about its historical issues, and was flat out deceiving and lying about views on race. So what else was it hiding? What other issues were out there?
I began my deep dive. The more I read or listened, the worse the church sounded. It soon became apparent to me that not only was the church not “true”, it wasn’t even remotely “good”. It was founded by a power hungry sex predator with a long history of being a con-artist. It holds bigoted and racist views. It caters to right-wing violent extremists. It breeds sexism and misogyny. It protects and enables abusers and predators. It fights against equal rights for the LGBTQ community. It hoards money, exploits tax loopholes, and lies about how its finances are being spent.
There are good people in the church, many good people that I truly love, respect, and care about. But I do not believe the church to be true, and definitely do not believe the church to be good.Andrew
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